The Ford Mondeo is a fine car in most areas. The family hatch is still a class leader even as its replacement nears
First DriveTrim and equipment upgrades make the Mondeo a viable company car option, but it's starting to look dated inside
First DriveThe Ford Mondeo Econetic makes a huge amount of sense in Business Edition trim for company car drivers
What is it?
A bit of a strange new addition to the Mondeo line-up, this one. Ford has decided to cater for buyers looking to combine a big petrol motor with an automatic gearbox by introducing another powerplant between the existing 2.0-litre version and the range-topping 2.5-litre turbocharged five-pot.
Despite 2.3 litres of swept capacity, this is a four-cylinder engine. It's also a Mazda unit, the same block that, in turbocharged, direct-injected form, is the basis for the fire-breathing MPS.
In the Mondeo it's in a far milder state of tune, with 159bhp delivered at a high 6500rpm, accompanied by 154lb ft of torque at an equally peaky 4200rpm.
A six-speed auto 'box is the only transmission option. It's £1500 more expensive than the (manual-only) 2.0-litre spec-for-spec and £1000 cheaper than the 2.5T.
What's it like?
Disappointing, to be honest. Indeed it's not an exaggeration to say that we've finally discovered a new Mondeo that we don't like.
The engine is loud and needs to be revved hard to deliver much in the way of performance, while the six-speed auto is reluctant to kick-down and saps most of the limited enthusiasm the engine is capable of mustering.
Overtaking performance is poor, and even taking control of the gear selection through the Tiptronic-style over-ride doesn't improve matters much.
The rest of the Mondeo performance remains impressive as ever - compliant ride, assured roadholding and a comfortable, well-insulated cabin that keeps out noise at cruising speeds.
So, should I buy one?
If you've been holding out for a self-shifting petrol Mondeo then it's going to have to be this one. Otherwise it's difficult to see the appeal, especially with the presence of the 2.0 TDCI diesel auto in the pricelists.
Combining the performance of the 2.0-litre with the economy of the 2.5T, the 2.3-litre Mondeo is set to be justifiably rare.